“I sell a new political party” – Ukrainian political economy

Peremoha is the name of a Ukrainian political party which is offered for sale for USD 17’000. While it’s common that political parties are traded in Ukraine, it’s rather unusual that they are sold over the Internet.

The advertisemet was listed in the business section of olx.ua, some sort of Ukrainian Craiglist. The offer includes a registered party, six members, a neutral name and program (strengthening of civil society and rule of law). In order to make it operationally work, additional personnel and services can be purchased. Buyers would be ready for next regional elections in October. The seller listed a phone number for further questions about the offer.

A journalist of Segodnya called this number and a girl with a sympathetic voice explained ‘the product’ in detail:

“The name of the party is “Peremoha” (Victory). It has no regional representative offices. We didn’t make them, because every client has own preferences for regions (for his own staff recruitment – Author). That’s why the price is low (USD 17’000! – Author). If there are party cells, it’ll be a sudden leap to USD 50’000 immediately. If you need assistance in re-registration, we can help. It costs USD 2’000, it takes 2-3 months. If you need help with representative offices (in regions – Author) – USD 150 for an office.” (Segodnya, June 4)

The journalist of Sogodnya received a copy of official documents, stamped by the Ministry of Justice. A check at the official registry confirmed the party’s existence and its registration.

Common practice

According to MP Leonid Yemets this is “an old practice that has existed for decades. Most, if not 90% registered in Ukraine parties, have been created for sale.” In theory (complete recording of facts) cases like this can be brought to court. Not because of the sale, but because of not paying taxes on the sale. Therefore the legal consequences are limited, as Yemets explains. (Segodnya, June 4)

The fact that the seller offered further services and additional political personnel, gives an idea about the diversified and commercialized ‘political production chain’. Also practices of parties buying votes for elections point in this direction. Nevertheless, it’s not common that parties appear in classified ads for sale.

According to the documents, Peremoha’s personnel were appointed on June 2, 2014 – after the presidential election and before the inauguration of President Poroshenko. The fact that the party was advertised on classified ads in the Internet leaves room for interpretations.

Commercialization of politics is a global tendency, in this respect Ukraine no exception. Ukraine and the case of Peremoha give an idea to what extend this is actually happening. It illustrates in a nutshell why political influence requires money and why people who came to power prefer to calibrate the system rather than going after the problem. It takes place in the context of a war that serves as an excuse for the limitation of civil rights and that creates an environment where society is getting armed.